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18 Stories of Children With Special Needs Being There for Their Siblings

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The Mighty has featured so many touching stories about typically-developing children being there for their siblings with special needs. But we know children with special needs are often there to help their typically-developing, too. It goes both ways — that’s why siblings are the best.

We asked our Facebook readers to share a moment where they’ve witnessed their loved one with special needs helping out his or her sibling. The wonderful responses shared ranged from kids teaching their siblings everyday skills — like how to tie their shoes or ride a bike — to leaving a sibling love notes and telling them they’re beautiful when they’re having a rough day.

Here are some of the beautiful moments you shared.

1. “My sweet daughter has learned unconditional love, compassion and acceptance from her brother, who has autism. To her, [he’s] is au-tastic! She’s 23 and is now an autism specialist showing others just how au-tastic they are!” — Jamie Stephanie Richards


2. “My son with developmental delays taught his sister to ride a bike! He was the only one with enough patience to handle her.” — Joy W Gutos

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3. “We witnessed our 9-year-old with autism help his brother up after he fell in the yard. Although a small feat, empathy is something kiddos on the autism spectrum sometimes lack.” — Shelly Dennison

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4. “When my older daughter, who has dyspraxia, global developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, was in kindergarten, she started learning to read. This was amazing because she’s so delayed in most [areas]. One day, I heard her 3-year old typically developing sister asking her if she would help her read a book. There may have been a little dust in my eyes just then.” — Stephanie Bruttig Brander

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5. “My son gets impatient about many things, especially when he gets overwhelmed, things don’t go his way or when too much information is coming at him at once. Yet when it comes to teaching or showing someone what or how to do something, he’s always patient, calm, and determined they can learn it. He taught his little sister how to ride a bike and tie her shoes when no one else could. Go figure.” — Kathryn Jacobs Wessell

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6. “A few months ago, my 9-year-old daughter was upset over an incident with her teacher and began obsessing over her looks and how she smelled. My 6-year-old son, who has sensory processing disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and is a cancer survivor, started putting notes in her backpack. Our favorite one said, ‘Melanie, I lik you a lot. You are the best sistir. I lik the way your har smels. I lik your smyl. I love you more than Legos.’ She still has several of his notes and reads them when she’s struggling with her self image.” — Traci Born

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7. “My 6-year-old who has Down syndrome tells his big sister, who’s 15 and not very confident, that she’s beautiful.” — Kerry-Ann Fender

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8. “My daughter with Down syndrome taught her younger sister everything she learned, including how to read. Her love of books carried over to her sister, and the time she spent reading to her as a baby helped create the special bond they have today.” — Carol Teitelbaum Croll

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9. “My youngest daughter, who has a disability, is my wild child. My oldest is typically developing and very reserved. It wasn’t until our youngest entered the picture with of all of her mischievous ideas and bold personality that our oldest started to be more confident and started taking risks. [She’s] taught [her big sister] to be a little more assertive and that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.” — Ali Schmeder-Cummins

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10. “My 8-year-old son with moderate autism usually ignores his 1-year-old brother, which is a good thing. But if [my youngest son] cries, [my oldest] runs to him and sings ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’” — Tracy Boyarsky Smith

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11. “My oldest son, who’s 6 years old, is on the autism spectrum. His little brother is 4 and always seems to reach milestones before his big brother. But when it comes to Legos, he’s always helping his little brother build and fix things.” — Erin Post Bowman

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12. “My 8-year-old son, who has a disability, has taught my 12-year-old typical son to approach and interact with all people who have disabilities.” — Holly Werenko

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13. “My son, 3, has autism. He always holds his 1-year-old baby sister’s hand, helps her walk and makes sure she doesn’t get too far from me when my hands are full.” — Leidy Jesse Garcia

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14. “[My daughter] is 6 and has Down syndrome. She helps her little brother, who is 3, take his shoes off. She even puts the socks inside the shoes and puts them on our shoe shelf.” — Danielle R Copello

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15. “I’ve had my twin boys, who both have autism, help me change their siblings’ diapers, feed them, dress them and make them snacks. When I had hand surgery, they helped wash their siblings’ hair. They did all of this without asking.” — Amanda M. Marshall 

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16. “One day, my 7-year-old granddaughter was upset because her friend didn’t want to play with her and was calling her names. Her sister, 21 months, who has mild cerebral palsy, walked up to her and gave her a hug and kiss. Then, she got two coloring books and crayons and gave her one. She then took her hand and walked her over to their table, and they began to color together.” – Lisa Boulden

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17“[My son with autism] tried to help his little brother put on his shoe. ‘I understand how hard that is, I can help you.’ It melted my heart.” — Sra Jennifer

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18. “My 13-year-old son has Angelman syndrome and is nonverbal, but he’s great at helping his three younger siblings open cabinets or get something down from up high, especially when they know they’re not supposed to have it! I’ve heard them say, ‘Can you get [insert object] for me please?’” — Jamie Stewart

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 Related: These 30 Photos Prove There’s No Love Quite Like Sibling Love

*Some quotes have been shortened and edited.

Originally published: July 21, 2015
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